Fact: We all make mistakes. Another fact: We seldom set out to make the kinds of mistakes that will deliberately hurt people we care about, yet we often make them anyway. Last fact: If we all learned how to forgive a little better, weíd save ourselves a lot of pain and suffering over the course of our lives.

I for one know I wouldíve saved myself a lot of unnecessary suffering last week if I had just been able to let go of something one of my kids did. But I just couldnít. And even though it was a pretty minor thing, it immediately creeped under my skin and just festered there, blistering and oozing a little bit more every day.

Now which kid did it and what it was is irrelevant (even though I know youíre dying to know); the focus here is just on my ability (or inability) to forgive, to let it go, and to move on. Which is something I sometimes have a tough time doing even when I know itíll almost always make my life easier and more peaceful in the end.

But this is something most of us have in common ó this failure to maintain perspective when we get hurt, to accept what happened and to move on.

Why though? Why canít we just acknowledge the event or the act or the insult and move forward? We canít because most of us have trouble making the commitment to change our thinking. Which is exactly what we have to do in order to be able to forgive someone.

The problem with that is, weíre all usually too inclined to relive the hurt instead of working through it to get to the other side.

See, as soon as our emotions start rushing in, we canít fight the current and find the shut-off valve. All those penetrating, annoying feelings we have, like anger and disappointment and sadness just fill us up to the eyeballs so we canít see straight.

Then we start flailing. We start swinging at the air and retaliating because we canít see straight through all the hurt. We fight back instead of shutting it down. Some of us compartmentalize the feelings, while others wear them on the outside for everyone to see. And I say this because, in my own experience as a wife and a mom and a friend and a member of a family, Iíve decided that most of us are stupid when it comes to the basic rules of human engagement. Weíre too quick to pass blame; we bring up the past when we argue (a cardinal no-no); and we have trouble letting things go when we get hurt.

Look, weíve all been hurt by someone. And most of us have probably felt, at one point or another, that we wouldnít be able to find a way to move beyond the hurt. And thatís because being hurt is a toxic, bitter feeling. So it lingers. But what Iíve learned (what Iím still learning) is that the sooner we learn to accept someoneís apology or screw up or thoughtlessness and move on, the happier we are in the end.

I mean, why do we rubberneck on the highway when thereís an accident? Because we just do. Itís human nature. We do it for the same reason that we tend to hold grudges even when we know itís counterproductive and pointless. Because we just do. Because itís human nature.

We all have the ability to dredge up the past or try to predict the future. Even though we canít change whatís already happened, weíre still compelled to try and relive moments as though we can change the outcome by thinking about them over and over. But we canít. (Itís so annoying.)

Forgiving someone is a vicious cycle, though. Because every time we let ourselves try to move forward and forget that someone was mean or hurtful or unkind our mind finds a trigger that brings it all back. Triggers like seeing the person or hearing their name or hearing a song that brings you right back to the point of impact when the pain kicked you in the heart for the first time. And thatís powerful stuff because it has the ability to cause the same exact kind of pain that it did the first time. (Also annoying.)

How do we learn to let go then?

Well, I guess we start by remembering that forgiveness doesnít have to involve forgetting what happened or excusing someoneís behavior, or even having to tell the other person that theyíre forgiven. Being able to let go involves understanding that weíre the ones who get to make the choice to stay angry or move forward. Weíve got that power. We can choose to feel angry or be at peace. And I donít know about you, but Iíve got enough going on in my head on a daily basis. I donít need or want any extra saltiness in there.

So just to close the loop, Iím over it now. What my daughter did. We talked it out and itís all good. My issue now is the stupid thing I did to piss her off right after we made up and how Iím gonna recover from that. I think Iíll start by reminding her that forgiveness is divine.

ó Lisa Sugarman lives just north of Boston, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at itiswhatitiscolumn.wordpress.com. She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is available on Amazon.com and at select Whole Foods Market stores.